The UK has seen a sharp rise in ‘green jobs’ and it’s a trend that is set to continue. These are jobs that directly contribute to tackling climate change and the government wants to see more of them. Currently there are 410,000 - they want 2 million by the year 2030.
The BBC is highlighting this ahead of COP26 and reports on three young people, recent recruits to three very sectors, who each give a very good insight. Paul McGoogan, 27, works at the Mitsubishi Electric factory in Livingston, near Edinburgh. The company is making an alternative to the traditional gas boiler – it is an air-source pump that draws warmth from the air to heat the home without releasing any carbon in the process. It’s a market that is growing fast - in 2019 there were 900 heat pumps installed in the UK, by 2028 there are expected to be 15,000.
Low carbon farming and wind turbines are fast growing markets too. Beth Campbell, 21, works as a research assistant for Jones Food Company, which is the largest vertical farm in Europe. She checks thousands of basil plants growing on huge trays and fed a carefully controlled supply of nutrients. As for wind turbines, they are springing up in the waters around the UK which has led to a boom in offshore building and maintenance. It's an industry that involves 26,000 jobs now - by 2026, that's set to rise to 70,000. Bridie Salmon, 23, is an apprentice technician for the wind firm Orsted, where she is learning how to service the huge machines generating zero-carbon power. Beth and Bridie have been speaking to the BBC about their jobs and their future:
BBC video – ‘Green jobs: The new generation of workers making it work for them’
You get a very good idea of the enthusiasm and drive out there from those two young women and the hope they have for the future of the industries they work in. We have a number of clients in those two sectors, and in many other sectors too, who are keen to attract people like Beth and Bridie into their business. Sarah Munro is one of our lawyers based in Edinburgh and is seeing this happen. I put it to Sarah that the BBC clip gets the message across very well:
Sarah Munro: “Yes, it really does, it really drives home the message of how important it is for the new generation of workers to work in a green job, or at least in a role where a business takes climate change seriously. Workers want to make a difference and they want to move from old industries to new renewable green industries and it’s not just the workforce that are talking about this, the UK government is too, they are putting an awful lot of money into what they're terming ‘green jobs’. But what is a green job? The roles on the BBC clip are clearly green but it shouldn't just be the obvious green renewable energy, for example, all businesses can make their workplace greener than it may be just know. The role that HR can play in this is making sure that people are talking about it, that the message from the top, from the board, is cascaded down to its current workforce, but also being talked about to new recruits because talking about climate change is really future proofing your business. You want to retain and recruit the best talent and that is what the new generation of climate conscious workers are really interested in. They want to know what you're doing in your business from a climate change angle and if you can talk knowledgeably about that, and make sure that people are really engaged within your existing workforce, that will send the message out to new recruits and make your business somewhere that they really want to work.”
The TUC has been warning that the government’s plans for “green jobs” will not happen if the UK fails to meet its carbon reduction targets. Personnel Today reports how the TUC claims that up to 660,000 jobs could be at risk if the government’s pledge to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 is not met. The CBI is also concerned. They say the ‘window of opportunity is shrinking by the day’ to make the most of job opportunities in electric vehicles and energy efficiency. The government refutes the TUC’s claims as ‘untrue’ and is set to clarify its strategy to reduce carbon emissions at the COP26 summit in Glasgow at the end of the month.
Finally on the subject of climate change, you may have seen Personnel Today’s headline that ‘HR is being shut out of climate change projects’. HR leaders from 120 organisations were surveyed to learn more about how they are addressing climate change ahead of COP26. Last week Sarah Munro talked to this programme about the reasons why HR was being shut out. That programme is called ‘Employers not involving HR in climate strategies’ and is available for viewing from the Outlaw website.